Angara renews financial commitment for country’s first lung transplant program

Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 15:13 By: admin
Angara renews financial commitment for country’s first lung transplant program

Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday reaffirmed the Senate’s unwavering financial commitment to advance the country’s first-ever lung transplant program during the 42nd founding anniversary celebration of the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) in Quezon City.

Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, announced an additional P50 million in funding for the LCP through the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), building on his initial push of P20 million in the 2022 GAA to establish the Lung Transplant Program for Patients with Advanced Lung Disease.

The program aims to provide Filipinos an affordable lung transplant for severe conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and other lung diseases.

"In the last two years, in the Senate we made sure its inclusion in the budget to help not just the Lung Center and the NKTI (National Kidney and Transplant Institute) but also for our other government hospitals,” Angara said in a speech delivered at the LCP event, attended by none other than President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

He added: “We’re happy to be a part of this very worthy program and we wish the NKTI, the Lung Center the best. This is truly a very important program for our people. We wish you all the best and you can count on our support in the Senate.”

The financial backing from the Senate is expected to play a pivotal role in expediting the necessary infrastructure, medical equipment acquisition, and personnel training needed for the successful implementation of the lung transplant program. 

Angara took a moment to thank President Marcos Jr. for providing essential policy guidance, citing the Chief Executive’s longstanding commitment to supporting specialty hospitals.

“We’d like to thank the President, of course for giving us the policy guidance at alam natin na noong 2022 campaign pa lang bukambibig na nya ‘yung pagtulong sa specialty hospitals which we know are very dear to his heart,”Angara said.

The senator drew historical connections, noting the instrumental role played by the President’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos in championing specialty hospitals such as the Philippine Heart Center, LCP, and NKTI. 

Angara further shared a personal connection, mentioning the collaboration of Mrs. Marcos and his father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, during the latter’s tenure as president of the University of the Philippines when the Philippine General Hospital expanded its services. 

He also recognized the invaluable contributions of the family of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte in upholding these healthcare institutions.

“Pangitain po ‘yun na kapag nagtutulung-tulong ang mga lingkod-bayan, marami po tayong magagawa,” Angara said, highlighting the power of collaboration among politicians.

Angara conveyed optimism in the progress made, emphasizing that the lung transplant program was ahead of schedule due to effective communication and coordination among politicians and healthcare professionals.

He expressed hope of replicating these initiatives in remote provinces, sharing insights from conversations with Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr., who highlighted the need for an air ambulance in his province.

Addressing the shortage of medical professionals in provinces, the senator suggested the need for a new law to support allied health professionals, building upon the success of the Doktor Para sa Bayan Law passed by Congress a few years ago. 

He emphasized the importance of providing adequate facilities in state universities and colleges, aligning with the Marcos administration’s commitment to healthcare programs.

Angara's advocacy for the lung transplant program stems from the procedural challenges, recognizing that no hospital in the Philippines currently possesses the capability to conduct a lung transplant for any Filipino in need.

Filipinos are compelled to seek such procedures at Toronto General Hospital in Canada or the University of Vienna. Even if they possess the financial means to pursue treatment abroad, they encounter a lack of prioritization.

Regrettably, some doctors have recounted instances where patients, facing prolonged waits for suitable candidates, tragically passed away while seeking treatment overseas. 

Also present during the LCP anniversary celebration where Mayor Belmonte; Rep. Gato, Chair of the House Committee on Health; Dr. Vincent Balanag, Executive Director of LCP; and Dr. Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete, Executive Director of NKTI. ###